The University programme brings older people together with overseas students to help the students learn English and more about our culture, national and local. We will recruit an older person who lives near the university and contract with them to find other older people to volunteer to help the overseas students.

The programme is modelled on the work developed at TU a university in in Dortmund, Germany. It builds on the five years of experience that has been gained in running the self-sustaining programme there. Learn more here.

A brief history of the TU programme in Dortmund Germany

The programme started 5 years ago in 2010 as a way to engage older members of the university for seniors at TU to mentor and befriend the students from overseas attending the university.

The director of the programme at TU recruits volunteers from this programme.

 The university’s international office supports the programme in a number of ways, providing for example 

• A room which is used for the programme and where it meets once a week

• Some support for trips on one off basis

• Tea and coffee for meetings

• Assistance with preparation of flyers

• Small amount of funding from the German Academic Exchange Programme

The students come from all levels of study, undergraduate, masters and PhD programmes in the university

The mentors are all part of the senior programme in the university

The mentors and the students meet at the beginning of the academic year, some never come back, most do and relationships develop between individuals: seniors and students.

Together the students and the older partners determine what they will do and how frequently they will meet. The duration of the relationship varies some last for the whole three years of undergraduate study or doctoral work others are shorter.

Support for studies, language and culture are given by the senior partners in the programme to the students and each ‘team’ works out its own way to achieve what they want. Some visit other cities, cook together, and go on visits together. So the pattern of input and exchange is varied and flexible and meets the needs of the participants, it is not prescribed by the university.

There are about 20 mentors and 40-50 students involved in the programme per year.

Some outcomes have been observed in lasting friendships including visits to the students own countries once the leave the university and invitations to their weddings.

Developing the model in England

We propose to follow the TU model, making two additions to it.

• We will pay a recruit an older person living near the university to the coordinator of the programme

• The coordinator will a recruit older volunteers who live locally

We will pilot this programme in the academic year 2017-18

We are seeking funding to support the programme to ensure it is financially viable. We will charge the university a recruit an older person living near the university for the programme we can deliver for them.  

We are looking for universities to pilot this programme with us.